Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pentecost 4

Today's readings were Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15; and Mark 5:21-42 (sermon text).

We are here in church today because of Christ and His gifts, because He is our only hope. Two examples are in the Gospel reading. Jairus's daughter was raised; the woman (the story within the story) was healed of a twelve-year disease. But the miracles' purpose was not to draw ooh's and aah's. It was rather about Christ bringing God's kingdom.

First, the woman. For twelve years she had been bleeding abnormally, using her savings to no avail. But now she had faith that a touch of Jesus' robe would heal her. It did! So Jesus wanted to draw attention to her faith: "Daughter, your faith has made you well." The woman was given her life and wholeness back! She was "treated and released." Now the main story resumes.

Second, the daughter. Her father, a Sanhedrin, was a synagogue ruler. But she had died. The messengers didn't want to bother Jesus, but He wanted to be bothered. He is bothered by death, so He went and raised the daughter. The selected disciples witnessed the neighborhood keening and mourning. This crowd didn't understand that Christ could indeed heal the "sleeping" (those who die in Him).

In this instance, Christ is interested in keeping the "Messianic secret" - all miracles needed to be tied to His main purpose: to bring His own into heaven with Him, where there exists no pain, no hurt, ho disasters, no sickness, no death. We'll live forever, by faith, with the King of Kings.

Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On multiculturalism

Not only does this editorial today explain succinctly what multiculturalism is, it also says what needs to be said, something the WSJ does often but not always. In the context of a movie review (The Stoning of Soraya M.), Andrew Klavan deals what should be an effective blow to the support of multiculturalism.

A resource it made me remember is Understanding the Times by David Noebel. Have your children read it before college. Read it yourself! This is, by the way, a good culture to emulate.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pentecost 3

Today's readings, each referenced in the sermon: Job 38:1-11, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, and Mark 4:35-41.

The Gospel reading tells of Christ's power over nature - but the disciples were afraid. Who is Jesus, this glorious Man wielding God's power among us sinners? The "time of the Church" (Pentecost through the beginning of Advent) is an excellent time to ponder this question. It is scary to have God next to you! "Who?" is Christianity's fundamental question, in contrast to the world's clever denial of God's existence. But neither must we try to have more "spirituality," for that does not produce either stronger or more true Christians. We need instead Spirituality, but the Holy Spirit cannot be manipulated or lied to.

Neither is the Son of God at all to be trifled with. His Father, in the Old Testament reading, takes Job to task for dealing lightly with Him. We cannot even understand His creation, let alone who He is! He stayed the waves by His power. Frightening, but not the final word.

Paul tells us that "now is the day of salvation." Until Christ returns, there is no day of judgment yet. Stay in the church - "the ship of faith" - keeping our gaze on our Captain, Christ.

Have a blessed Father's Day, and to my two other friends who have birthdays on this day, I congratulate them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pentecost 2

Today's readings: Hosea 2:14-20, Acts 2:36-47 (sermon text), and Mark 2:13-22.

We see here the early Christians in addition to similarities with a Christian's life today. Four sequential points are made: (1) The pilgrims to Jerusalem crucified their one true Hope; (2) They were reunited with their Hope; (3) They were baptized; and (4) They were blessed as they continued in their Baptismal life.
  1. God the Holy Spirit, through Peter, horrified the pilgrims, cutting them to the heart. Just like them, we were enemies of Christ, betraying and crucifying our one true Hope. So we should ask, "What should we do?" And God will answer: "Repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
  2. This reunites us with our one true Hope. This is no altar call - it is anti-Scripture to decide *for yourself* for Christ. Verse 40, in Greek, has a definite passive voice (both the NIV and ESV err here).
  3. The promise of salvation is for children as well as adults. Let both be baptized.
  4. Verses 41 and 42 are grammatically linked in Greek, indicating the totality of the Christian life: Baptism --> being taught sound doctrine + fellowship + breaking bread + the prayers. The common feature to all of God's family members is forgiven sins. So, because we are family, we share in the Body, helping our brothers and sisters. We all have the very blood of Christ coursing through our veins.
Finally, prayer is us speaking back to God. The sum total of all four elements is the Divine Service, the center of our week.

"And the Lord added daily to their number those who were being saved."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trinity Sunday

Today's readings were Isaiah 6:1-8, Acts 2:14a, 22-36, and John 3:1-17 (verse 16 was the text).

The Trinity is a mystery of the Christian faith. How can God be only one God but also three Persons? How can 1 equal 3 and 1 + 1 + 1 = 1? The Athanasian Creed tries to explain it; no one can fully understand it, but we must rather receive it by faith. (What does God's Word say?) John 3:16 presents another divine mystery. Let's take a look.

This mystery had to be revealed to us; we couldn't have found it otherwise. The verse describes how the Trinity works. "God [the Father] so loved the world." - Where is God when bad things happen, when people die? God's love then is hard to see. But it's still there. When man sins, God's love remains, for He has promised us "everlasting love" according to Isaiah - agape. God loves the repulsive. God loves the world!

"He gave His only-begotten Son." Note that God didn't send His Son; that's not what love is. Instead, He gave Him. This love is too profound for our sinful selves, so we try to downplay it. But the reality remains: as the Father gave us the Son, so the Son also gave Himself for us, bearing our deserved punishment to give us salvation.

So also God the Holy Spirit comes to give us faith to believe in God the Son. If we don't believe in something, it won't benefit us - a buried treasure that you don't think is there, so you won't dig for it. Therefore we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to believe in Jesus our Substitute. As the Word is proclaimed to us, the Holy Spirit uses it to speak to us, to convince us that the Christ-proclaiming Scriptures are true. Everyone who has this faith will be saved. Amazingly, it doesn't matter what sins you commit (although you are to stop sinning!). They're all washed away in the God-given Son's blood. Therefore Christianity is not a deal between you and God - God does ALL the giving. We simply receive.

This excellent sermon came to us today from one of the Preus lineage. Those who were there know which one.